As Laura entered her next class, she saw on the chalkboard that prom was coming up. She resisted the urge to groan. All that reminded her was that she was supposed to be going with Ted back in Orlando but that she couldn’t because she was all the way up here in Vermont. She shook her head and went to her desk. Right after she sat down, the bell rang, signaling the beginning of class.
Her teacher, Mr. Thorton, came into the room. He was a strange man in Laura’s eyes. The man looked like he was in his fifties or sixties and needed a cane to walk. He didn’t use a cane though. He was dressed in a suit that looked like though. “Now students, as I’m sure you can see on the board, prom is this Saturday. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, I suggest you do.” He said.
Mr. Thorton went to his teacher’s desk and sat down. “Now then since this is History Class and with the anniversary of an infamous day related to our town coming up, I want you all to do a ten page report on the infamous murder of Jessica Smith and to have it completed and turned in by Friday.” He told them. “You can use any resource you want as long as it isn’t Wikipedia. I’ll know if you used Wikipedia or not when I’m grading the papers.”
Laura thought about the assignment. She was going to do as much research as she could. She would do more than just ten pages. She would do as many pages as it took to get to the truth and find out everything that had happened involving that night. Laura couldn’t help but wonder why Mr. Thorton decided to do this assignment. Was it to see if the students really knew the story or just thought they knew the story?
Laura looked at Mr. Thorton. He might have answers that she could use as a part of her research assignment. She made a mental note to try to ask him after class.
“Mr. Thorton, why would we waste an assignment on something everyone here already knows?” A student asked. Everyone there groaned. Laura had a feeling that the student had pressed a button. Most likely the teacher wasting the entire class talking about his past button. That was fine with her. Back at her old school, either she or one of her classmates would do that on purpose.
Mr. Thorton looked at the class. “No assignment topic is a waste Alex.” He said, calling out the student who had asked the question. “And the history of our town is important to learn about, not just to talk about what we know, but to make sure that we learn from our past so we don’t repeat it.” He said that last bit in a serious voice.
“Right, like one of us is going to kill our ex the night of prom because they go with someone else.” Alex joked. “Mr. Thorton, there’s better ways to get revenge on an ex in this day and age.” Several students all nodded and murmured in agreement.
Laura looked at Mr. Thorton. She wondered what he was going to say to that. To her surprise, he simply smiled. “Mr. Alex, if the one you dumped decided to get revenge, what would she do to do it?” Mr. Thorton asked the student.
Alex crossed his arms over his chest. “She would most likely gossip about our relationship with her friends and make it seem like I was a terrible boyfriend.” He replied. Several students murmured again in agreement. Even Laura found herself agreeing with Alex. She knew though that Ted and her would never break up. They belonged with each other.
Mr. Thorton looked at another student. “What if your ex decided to get revenge Jennifer?” He asked her.
Jennifer shifted in her seat. “Mr. Thorton, I’m single.” She said to him. “And I haven’t dated anyone at all.” She quickly looked down.
Mr. Thorton sighed and shook his head. “I’m sorry Jennifer. I didn’t know.” He said before he looked at the class. “Point is, you might not go on a murderous rampage like James Hathaworne did back then but you still have ways to get revenge on your exes if you have one. You can still repeat history even if it isn’t by killing your ex. The point is, you can repeat making your ex suffer.” He took a moment to let that sink in. “And that is why I want you to do this assignment. To learn how James and Jessica ended up being dead and how to avoid ruining your lives the way that James did.”
After class, Laura went up to Mr. Thorton. “Mr. Thorton, can I ask you a question?” Laura asked him. “It’s about the assignment.”
Mr. Thorton looked at Laura. “The new girl, right?” He asked. “No I won’t be taking an easy on you because you’re new here. You have time to do the research just like everyone else here.” He turned to leave.
“I wasn’t going to ask you to take it easy on me with the assignment.” Laura said quickly. “I wanted to know if you were there when it happened.” She hoped that Mr. Thorton would feel happy to be included in the research project or that she would want to talk to first-hand accounts of it.
Mr. Thorton turned back to her. “That is a complicated request.” He said. “I was there but I wasn’t there.” He sat down on his desk. “I was the shy quiet nerd who was never allowed to join in with activities.” Mr. Thorton shook his head as he thought about it. “What I do know about it though is that I was there when Anthony and James got into the fight at the cafeteria.” He added.
Laura was interested in that. “I thought the story was that James attacked Anthony and had to be removed by police and teachers.” She said. That’s what her friends had said.
Mr. Thorton smiled. “Oh James did attack Anthony but only after Anthony pushed him away from Jessica.” He replied. “But I think everyone back then liked pinning everything on the bad boy instead of being honest. After all, everyone did point fingers at James being the killer and he was found dead before anyone could question him.”
Laura thought about it. The guy claiming to be James said that he had been basically drugged in the prison and then woke up in Jessica’s room like a ghost before seeing Anthony calling the police saying that Jessica was dead. “Did Anthony have a violent side or seem abusive towards Jessica?” She asked.
Mr. Thorton frowned. “If I recall correctly, he didn’t have an abusive side.” He replied. “Then again, I was just the silent shy nerd who saw things from a distance. He didn’t seem abusive or violent towards anyone but James that one fight. He did disappear quickly after the funeral though.” He shook his head after being silent for a few seconds. “You should get to your next class.” He told Laura. “If I can remember anything else, I’ll let you know.”
Laura smiled. The teacher had been very helpful despite seeming odd. “Thank you Mr. Thorton.” She said before she left.